We originally ran this piece in 2007. -ed.
Every once in a while, one gets asked to do something totally out of the ordinary, and comes up with something completely original. This piece of work, be it art, literature, music, etc., transcends greatness and goes down in the canon of all things wondrous and life changing. This, however, can be somewhat frightening. Having your life changed for whatever reason isn’t always appreciated. So, in deference to all those solid citizens out there who don’t need anything life changing, and seeing I write about movies, AND it is Halloween, I’m doing a scary movie list.
This time, though, it’s about movies you may or may not have even seen.And these movies may change your life. Be forewarned.
The horror, the horror.
Last House on the Left (1972): This, hands down, had to be one of the most difficult movies to watch. But, as with most films about rape and murder, it certainly is a wonderful date movie! This Wes Craven masterpiece looks almost too cheap to believe that the people in the movie are actually acting, which brings an unsettling truthfulness to the whole sordid happenings. Truly frightening.
Suspiria (1977): Dario Argento’s best film. His use of color and violent images make for a wonderfully creepy dreamlike film. The color red looks like its bleeding off the screen. Set in a European ballet school run by witches, this film captures Argento’s penchant for totally strange and surreal scenes. Look for the one where the girl crawling in the attic falls through the floor into a room filled 6 feet deep with barbed wire. Totally unbelievably, and completely horrifying.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) /Dawn of the Dead (1978): The original ones, peoples!!! Incredible films, I mean, what is scarier than a roving hoard of zombies? Personally I prefer the slow zombies to the fast 28 Days Later/Dawn of the Dead remake zombies. There’s something more inherently frightening about seeing the zombies coming from far away, and knowing there’s little to nothing you can do about it. It gives time for the dread and despair to sink in.
Maniac (1980) – One of my favorite horror movies of all time. This features the inimitable Joe Spinell, my favorite on-screen serial killer EVER. He has all the things you want in a serial killer: Greasy, sweaty, hairy, pock marked, rocking back-and-forth, putting scalps of hookers on mannequins, and whimpering for his mother. Combine this with the unbelievable special effects skills of Tom Savini & ridiculously low budget 70s filmmaking, and you get a movie that’s completely creeptastic.
The Haunting (1963) – The original one, not the awful one with Catherine Zeta-Jones. One of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen, but maybe that’s just cause I was 10 when I saw it. This movie, without using ridiculous CGI, or hokey special effects, actually makes you believe the house the characters are investigating is haunted. Changed my view of spiral staircases forever.
Bloodsucking Freaks (1976) – This movie isn’t particularly scary at all, but still one of my faves. How can you go wrong with a magician who invites people from the audience to get sawed in half, then really does it onstage? Look for the Ralphus the Puerto-rican midget henchman, the retarded dentist, and the cabal of wild caged women who eat unfortunate men’s penises. Over the top, completely ridiculous, and totally disgusting.
John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) – My favorite John Carpenter movie. Kurt Russell, Keith David, and Wilford Brimley (yes, the Quaker oatmeal guy) are stuck above the arctic circle in a research facility with an alien that can morph into anything. Literally, ANYTHING. Excellent special effects, and because this is before CGI, everything seems to be fairly real, even when the guys head that comes off and turns into something resembling a spider. As Kurt says when he sees it, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” If there’s any movie you need to see from this list, this is the one.
Begotten (1990) – A horrific nightmare by the guy who made Shadow of the Vampire, E. Elias Mirhige. Rivals Eraserhead in being the truly creepiest, non-linear, surreal movie I’ve ever seen. All you need to know is the first line from the IMDB plot summary: “God disembowels himself with a straight razor.” Strap yourself in. It is not recommend you smoke pot and see this film.
Eaten Alive (1976) – Tobe Hooper’s (director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) second film. This one features Robert Englund and a crocodile living under a hotel in the middle of a swamp. And guess what? People get eaten…ALIVE!!!
Martin (1976) – I couldn’t leave this one off, no matter how hard I tried. One of the few George Romero films not about zombies that is actually good. Martin is a confused young lad who kills people and drinks their blood. The question: is he really a supernatural vampire, or is he just a sick creep? Watch this to find out. Excellent film, and truly creepy.
There you have it, folks, my list of scary films that you may or may not have seen before. Check all of these out, and then feel free to email me and tell me I have problems. Slappy Halloween, kids!
do you want MORE?
check out Cesar’s’s “Top 10 scary movies of all time”. here.